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The Staff's Top Picks of 2006

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The Staff of Sea of Tranquility-Top Picks of 2006


Butch Jones
Top 10 CD's of 2006- In NO Particular Order !!!


1. Meshuggah-"Nothing" (Reissue)- It's Meshuggah, what else do you need to know!!!
2. Bolt-"Movement And Detail"- A wacky and eccentric band. All Instrumental, and a flat out fun CD to listen to. Once you start, you can't stop!
3. Firewind-"Allegiance"-Guitarist Gus G does it again. One of the best new guitar players around.
4. Zero Hour-"Specs of a Pictures Burnt Beyond"-An UNREAL band from the San Francisco area. Beyond top notch musicianship. A shock the first time I listened to it.
5. Scott Reeder-"Tunnelvision Brilliance"- A trippy, spacey record that I didn't expect to like at all, but did! Great songwriting & a very pleasant surprise.
6. Soil-"True Self"- Soil doesn't seem to get much respect from the masses, but I love this band! A new singer, but they still remain the Soil that I loved from a few years ago. Even heavier these days.
7. Raunchy-"Death Pop Romance"-Heavy and fierce! Bad name, but they smoke.
8. Rebel Meets Rebel-"Rebel Meets Rebel"-Dimebag meets David Allen Coe & Country music.This is a really cool idea that worked. Just wish that Dime was here when it was finally released.
9. Mercenary-"The Hours That Remain"- Real metal with actual vocals! A band that I can't wait to hear what they will come up with next. Buy this CD!
10. Black Stone Cherry-"Black Stone Cherry"- A straight ahead Hard Rock record. Music needs more bands like this. Dirty & rockin'. Have a beer in hand while listening.


Michael Popke
Best CDs of 2006:

  • Rocket Scientists: Revolution Road — Rocket Scientists, one of America's most overlooked bands, disappears for seven years and then emerges in late 2006 with two CDs worth of music that would each make a great album on their own. Some listeners have asked: Are they prog? I ask: Who cares?!
  • Slamer: Nowhere Land — Once upon a time, in a hard-rock universe ruled by big vocals and even bigger choruses, there temporarily resided bands that sound like Slamer — led by Mike Slamer, one of the most brilliant melodic hard rock guitarists and songwriters of the past 30 years.
  • Zero Hour: Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond — The band's technical brand of American progressive metal reaches its zenith on a stunning record of brutal beauty and sheer power, with lyrics that reveal a human element all too often lost in this type of music.
  • Axel Rudi Pell: Mystica — Any Pell release since Oceans of Time is worth celebrating, and this one rivals The Masquerade Ball in terms of overall quality. Dark and mysterious metal at its finest.
  • Kopecky: Blood — While not sounding as cold, calculated or claustrophobic as its sinister predecessors, this album continues the instrumental prog-metal trio's ambitious pursuit of creating original and affecting music that challenges (and occasionally redefines) the listener's psyche.
  • Spock's Beard: Spock's Beard — The third time's a charm with album number three in the post-Neal Morse era. This is how I imagined Spock's Beard would eventually sound: a savvy mix of classic and modern prog rock.
  • Tempest: The Double-Cross — During a year in which I rediscovered roots rock, the latest album from this veteran Celtic-rock band seduced me with its potent and organic world music, blurring folk, rock and traditional music into a heady blend that echoes classic Tull while continuing to cut its own broad swath.
  • Angra: Aurora Consurgens — Maybe it was just me, but I didn't really hear the band's native Brazilian influences in recent Angra albums. That's not a problem with this memorable record, one of the band's heaviest yet most melodic.
  • GPS: Window to the Soul — A near-perfect mix of progressive rock and AOR from former Asia members that should have left Geoff Downes wondering if he screwed up by letting these guys go.
  • Cheap Trick: Rockford — The year's most welcome surprise, with the refreshingly retro If It Takes A Lifetime — arguably the strongest song these guys have recorded this millennium, and probably among the top 40 tunes in the band's entire catalog.
  • Amorphis: Eclipse — After 14 years, Amorphis have yet to make two albums that sound the same. Eclipse seeks to unite fans old and new with a stunning collection of songs that became the first great metal record of 2006.
  • Pure Reason Revolution: The Dark Third — This Pink Floyd-inspired prog record, released in the United States by a division of Sony-BMG Music, proves that major labels still have a little bit of taste left.
  • Prymary: The Tragedy of Innocence — Supreme progressive metal that, thanks to its subject matter about sexual abuse of a child, is anything but an easy listen. Yet it's one of the boldest records I heard this year.
  • Neil Zaza: When Gravity Fails — A total of 13 melodic hard-rock gems, jaw-dropping solos and an even more impressive guest list that would (and should) make better-known players squeal.
  • Manning: Anser's Tree — This clever and thought-provoking symphonic-rock concept album spans more than 500 years and traces one man's family tree by addressing everything from witch hunts to global warming.
  • Proto-Kaw: The Wait of Glory —The band that eventually morphed into Kansas returns and continues to bridge the gap between progressive and jam-band earthiness.
  • The Flyin' Ryan Brothers: Blue Marble — The brothers let loose with a barrage of soaring harmony leads and six-string interplay, relying on exotic ethnic sounds to give the (almost) all-instrumental Blue Marble unexpected stylistic diversity and ensuring that no two tracks sound the same.
  • Shooting Star: Circles — The perfect project for journeyman vocalist Kevin Chalfant, and a melodic hard rock album that stayed active on my iPod all summer long.
  • The Gufs: A Different Sea — Long-awaited set of classy power-pop gems from one-third of Milwaukee's musical triumvirate (the other two being the Violent Femmes and the BoDeans).
  • Winger: IV — It ain't Pull, Winger's cult-classic third album, but it's lean and mean and dark and edgy and way better than most people probably expected. Respect.

    Top 5 DVDs

  • Kiss: Kissology — A worthy addition to any musical video library simply for its historical value.
  • Kamelot: A Cold Winter's Night — I've been tough on Kamelot vocalist Khan for years. He's either too pompous or can't hold his microphone close enough to his mouth. But on this astonishing DVD, he made me realize just how superior this band's songs are to most of Kamelot's competition.
  • Metallica: The Videos 1989-2004. — Yeah, some people stopped following the band after "Enter Sandman," but this collection of often-dark and creepy videos makes for compelling viewing while chronicling Metallica's dramatic evolution from its thrash-metal roots.
  • Whitesnake: Live-In the Still of the Night — My buddies saw Whitesnake in Chicago a few years ago while I was stuck on a business trip. They said it was one of the best shows they'd ever seen — and we've seen a lot together. I didn't believe them until I sat through this thing.
  • Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland: One With Everything — I added this one simply because it's refreshing to see kids who weren't even born when Styx ruled the airwaves rocking out to songs with their violins and tubas, huge smiles on their faces. The medley of deep cuts is pure genius, and my 9-year-old daughter loves this thing.

    Top 5 Reissues/Live Recordings

  • Bruce Hornsby: Intersections — Full of new arrangements of old songs, as well as plenty of unreleased material, collaborations with artists ranging from The Grateful Dead to Roger Waters, and humble Hornsby-penned liner notes, this is everything a box set should be (and even a little more).
  • Dream Theater: Score — I was expecting another mind-numbing marathon, a la Live At Budokan. Instead, I heard a convincing argument for why the members of Dream Theater remain the godfathers of American progressive metal.
  • Fish: Return to Childhood — Nothing will ever top the original, simply because it's the original. But given the date and all the baggage Fish has carried over the years, Misplaced Childhood (as well as all of the Fish material aired here) holds up remarkably well.
  • Robert Plant: Nine Lives — Exquisitely but impractically packaged, this beautiful collection includes all of Plant's solo albums (with bonus tracks) and a hefty DVD that chronicles the musical chameleon's transformation from lead singer for the biggest band in the world to true solo artist.
  • Great Big Sea: Courage & Patience & Grit — You want truly progressive music? Check out these Canadian dudes who blend sea chanty and rock music into an intoxicating aural elixir. This live album will make you want to dig into the band's rousing back-catalog, while the accompanying DVD will just make you happy to be alive. I kid you not.

    ALBUM MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2007: Symphony X: "Paradise Lost"


    Steve Pettengill
    Top 10 CDs
    1. Muse-Black Holes and Revelations
    2. La Maschera Di Cera-Lux Ade
    3. Deep Purple-1993 (box set)
    4. Djambra-Kamihitoe
    5. Iron Maiden-A Matter of Life and Death
    6. PFM-Stati di Immaginazione
    7. White Willow-Signal to Noise
    8. Steve Hackett-Wild Orchids
    9. Tool-10,000 Days
    10. Naikaku-Shell


    Top 5 DVDs
    1. Rainbow-Live in Munich
    2. Kiss-Kissology
    3. Best of Krautrock Vol. 1
    4. Mike Oldfield-Live in Montreux
    5. IQ-Stage


    Top 5 Concerts
    1. Queen w/ Paul Rodgers
    2. Nearfest 2006
    3. Roger Waters
    4. Richard Thompson
    5. Blue Oyster Cult/Foghat


    Mike Blackburn
    Top Ten 2006

  • Vanden Plas : Christ O
  • Joe Bonamassa : You and Me
  • Andy Timmons : Resolution
  • Electric Outlet : On!
  • Joe Satriani : Super Colossal
  • The Flyin' Ryan Brothers: Blue Marble
  • Dragonforce : Inhuman Rampage
  • Tommy Bolin : Whips and Roses Vol 1
  • Alex Masi : Late Night at desert Rimrock
  • Baltimoore : X


    Elias Granillo Best Of 2006 (in some kind of order):

    » Kenso – Utsuroi Yuku Mono ...another mindblowing album from the kings of Japanese fusion. Everybody should know 'em by now.

    » Sur Oculto – Estados …along with DPI, the left-fielder of the year! This keyboard trio from Argentina hadn't released a CD since their debut five years ago. This is no ELP knock-off; Sur Oculto gets down 'n' dirty and takes their cues from symph, avant-prog & fusion (Magma/Corea), and the drummer's a nut. Due to arriving so late in the northern hemisphere, this album may take a while to catch on, but rest assured dis is da bomb.

    » Zombi – Surface To Air ...Steve Moore & A.E. Paterra are the coolest American duo operating today. Grandiose synthesizer sounds meld with power drumming and funky bassing and the Goblin boys better be proud.

    » DPI – Found Objects ...D stands for [keyboardist Vince] Dicola, P stands for [(Jethro Tull) drummer Doane] Perry, and I stands for [bassist Paul]Ill (as in "you be illin'). Three stellar long-form, kaleidoscopic prog rockin' excursions recorded & produced at Travis Dickerson's studio (where Buckethead records most of his solo stuff). These guys have recorded hours of music — when's the next one?!

    » Rick Wakeman – Retro …this man is ageless, timeless. He takes a lickin' and...you get it. With Retro he finally revisited his long-stored analog gear and (gasp!) made MUSIC with it! This is a fantastic CD, one of the highlights of the year for me.

    » Bootcut – De Fluff …I think Bootcut's now my favorite band out of Sweden. The duo's sophomore release adds some guests to their B3 organ & tubs broth and comes out swingin' with something more than prog, like "cinematic fusion" or something to that effect. Rikard Sjoblom is at least as competent a B3 organist as John Novello, even if Bootcut prioritizes ingenuity over chops 'n' wailing.

    » Naikaku – Shell …#2 by this insane Japanese heavy-fusion band blew up mice in a lab test! (Okay, that wasn't funny.) The coolest output from Japan of this sort (very different from Kenso) since Pochakaite Malko's debut.

    » La Maschera di Cera – LuxAde …looks like this is the best "modern retro" symph-prog release of '06! Superb.

    » Rikard Sjoblom – Cyklonmannen …Sjoblom's soundtrack to the novel is sweet stuff and not exactly Bootcut Part Deux, either.

    » Saga – Trust …open mouth, insert foot. I can't believe it, but these guys are actually on the upswing, and this — hard to believe, but true! — is their single best release overall since 1983's Heads Or Tales! What a great leadoff track.

    » Rocket Scientists – Revolution Road …they're baaaaack! Wow, the last RS album was in 1998. Erik Norlander & his Wall Of Doom, Don Schiff and his off-the-hook NS/Stick skillz, and Mark McCrite's ace songwriting return, with some great guest vocal/instrumental power. As much as I love vintage keys and Norlander's keyboard prowess, I think it's safe to say that the Rocket Scientists would not be the same band without Schiff. That guy is something else.

    » East Wind Pot – East Wind Pot …super new Japanese fusion group with ex-Theta personnel that would've had this year's title (next to Hiromi—see below) but, well, Kenso put one out! (Hahaha!) EWP definitely has the edge over Side Steps and some of the other Japanese "cookie cutter" fusion outfits.

    » Hiromi – Spiral …3rd and possibly best CD by the amazing jazz-fusion pianist!

    » David Kikoski – Lighter Way ...here's a long-running jazz pianist cooking his wares in more fusiony kiln. Giving Hiromi a run for her money, he composes one fabulous solo instrumental, struts his stuff with his bassist & drummer, and then for six sizzling minutes, turns the heat up with a spitfire monophonic right-hand [analog] lead that takes things into Niacin territory. A "chance purchase," too!

    » Audioslave – Revelations …they're never going to match their amazing debut (rock perfection) but this set still cranks with songs like "Sound Of A Gun" and "Moth."

    » Cheap Trick – Rockford ...tasty new rock from the Trick! Don't call them a nostalgia act.

    » The Mars Volta – Amputechture ...more goodness from the Volta. (I still like De-loused the best. Sue me.)

    » Fall Of Echoes– The Red Tree ...swell debut from the Orphan Project/Visual Cliff guys. The follow-up with the expanded line-up will roll over this one.

    Honorable Mention:

    » TOOL – 10,000 Days ...Wot?! you say? Well, TOOL have recorded some amazing sh*t but for all the hype this album has received, it's a rather uneven platter that doesn't quite stack up against Lateralus ("The Pot" is truly a killer song, though). I think it's time for the Toolheads to mix it up a bit. They've grown too comfortable within their niche.

    Top Remasters/Reissues Of 2006 (in alphabetical order):

    » Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer – Like Children …the landmark fusion album, finally on CD. Jan is definitely a contender for the Best Keyboardist of the '70s title. This is so essential it t'ain't funny!

    » Jan Hammer Group – Oh Yeah? …we waited forever for a new reissue of this. Killer funkified fusion (two tracks with vocals, even...and they're good!).

    » Rick Wakeman – 1984 …hot-sounding remaster of Rick's best '80s album!

    » Santana – Santana III {Legacy Edition} …the best studio album from pre-Caravanserai Santana in a new 2CD remaster with superior packaging and a 2nd bonus live disc! Need I say more?

    » Rick Wakeman – Out There …okay, this did come out in '03, but the new issue with the blue cover is cooler. (-;

    Top DVDs of 2006 (quality vs. quantity!):

    » Rainbow – Live In Munich '77 …like Jacoby & Meyers — it's about time!

    » Erik Norlander & Friends – Live In St. Petersburg …slick DVD/CD set with Erik in "power keyboard trio" mode on several tracks! And loads of other neato stuff.

    » Thin Lizzy – Greatest Hits …finally, a semi-comprehensive collection of Lizzy's promos. Bitchin'!

    » Rush – Replay x3 …all three of Rush's 1980s concert videos on DVD in a box at a very fan-friendly price, PLUS a bonus audio CD of Grace Under Pressure Tour! To deem this essential is to overstate the obvious.

    » Bruford – Rock Goes To College ...savor the flavor! Probably the only official video doc we'll ever get of Bill's legendary fusion group. Cha cha!

    » Stream Of Passion – Live In The Real World …great power metal with hot babes! Seriously, it's good music. Seriously, there are some babes in this band!!


    Scott Borre
    1) Hammers of Misfortune - The Locust Years : Cobbett is one of the best song writers in music today. This album is a can't miss.
    2) Firewind - Allegiance : The songs are all distinct, well written, and well played. What more can you ask for?
    3) Elvenking - Winters Wake : Power folk that is energetic and catchy. I can't get enough.
    4) Dark Empire - Distant Tides : Power, prog, and thrash were meant to be together. Excellent album, can't wait for the next.
    5) Korpiklaani - Take Along This Road : It kicked my ass.
    6) Blind Guardian - Twist in the Myth : I think that this album was highly underrated by the metal community. It is as strong as Somewhere Far Beyond.
    7) Mercenary - Hours that Remain : Melodic power-death at its best.
    8) Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death : Its good. As long as you know that they recorded this album while playing live, thus you won't have it sound like a ProTools masterpiece (which seemingly peoples ears rather prefer).
    9) Circle II Circle - The Burden of Truth : Zak at his best. Great singing, great songs to listen to.
    10) Falconer - Northwind : I love them. Pure escpaism metal where I am flown above battlefield and seas by the voice of Mattias.
    11) Virgin Steele - Visions of Eden : Great concept, great song writing. Despite some comments by others, I was never bored. Liked every song.
    12) Rhapsody of Fire - Triumph or Agony : Their best effort lately
    13) Iron Fire - Revenge : There is something about this band that makes me love them.
    14) Dissection - Reinkaos : Amazing album. Just don't expect it to sound like the others. Sadly, there will be no more.
    15) Die Apokalyptischen Reiter - Riders On The Storm : I just enjoyed it.


    Kerry Leimer CDs (Alphabetical Order)

  • Leo Abrahams: Scene Memory – A much more musical sort of experiment
  • Gavin Bryars: On Photography – A modern master
  • Clogs: Lantern – Melodic and beautiful without ever being pretty
  • Robert Henke: Layering Buddha – One of the few who is originating music in wholly new ways
  • Henry Cow: Box – BIttern storm over remixes
  • Joseph Holbrooke Trio: The Moat Recordings – A definitive tutorial on improvisation
  • The Necks: Chemist – Transplendent!
  • Sparks: Hello Young Lovers – Theme on theme on theme and variable and varied variation
  • John Tavener: The Veil of the Temple – Chant of the long now
  • Chris Whitley: Reiter In – A disarmingly diverse farewell
  • Univers Zero: Live — A long time coming
  • Zaar: Zaar – RIO lives, sadly the guitarist no longer does...


    FILMS / TELEVISION

  • Caché – Most sane look yet at the notion of terror
  • Children of Men – Perhaps it's the culture of fear that's sterile
  • Deadwood – Remarkable language, acting and ideas about corruption
  • The King – Flawed but earnest deconstruction of the "family"
  • Little Children – Owes much to Todd Solondz' Happiness
  • The Piano Teacher — I know it's from '02, but finally saw it in '06
  • Reds – Finally available on DVD


    BOOKS: FICTION

  • Martin Amis: House of Meetings – Inner and outer gulags
  • John Banville: The Sea – Dislocation from the self
  • J. M. Coetzee: Slow Man – Yet another sort of dislocation from the self


    BOOKS: NONFICTION

  • Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion – No kidding?
  • Sam Harris: Letter to a Christian Nation – A handbook for the reality-based community
  • Bob Woodward: State of Denial – No kidding!


    Pete Pardo
    Pete Pardo's Best of 2006


    The Top 50 CD's of 2006
    1) Mercenary-the Hours that Remain…the years most powerful release, a melodic mix of power, progressive, & death metal, and contains one of the best songs of 2006, "Lost Reality"
    2) Zero Hour-Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond…a VERY close second. The most complex album I've heard in years.
    3) Mastodon-Blood Mountain… As good, if not better, than Leviathan.
    4) Amorphis-Eclipse…The lads from Finland pull another classic from their sleeves.
    5) Scar Symmetry-Pitch Black Effects…Raging guitar solos, soaring clean vocals, brutal death metal growls-brilliant!
    6) Lamb of God-Sacrament…Their best yet. Future legends. The first four songs are instant classics!
    7) Communic-Waves of Visual Decay…Melodic, crushing mix of power & progressive metal. Future stars.
    8) Iron Maiden-A Matter of Life and Death…Forget the negative press, Maiden are back with their most epic album yet.
    9) I –Between two Worlds…Great project from members of Immortal, Enslaved, and Gorgoroth.
    10) Enslaved-RUUN…The black metal titans get even more progressive!
    11) Satyricon-Now, Diabolical…Grooviest black metal anthems around.
    12) Celtic Frost-Monotheist…Legends of avant-garde metal return!
    13) Vanden Plas-Christ O …Stunning operatic progressive metal. Their best yet!
    14) Saga –Trust …Return to classic early 80's sounds from Canadian prog/pop legends.
    15) Into Eternity-The Scattering of Ashes...Super complex prog-metal.
    16) Spock's Beard-Spock's Beard…Their best release from the post-Morse era.
    17) Cradle of Filth-Thornography…The always controversial UK demons release their most traditional metal & gothic album yet.
    18) Dragonforce-Inhuman Rampage…Insanely wicked UK power metal with the sickest guitar & keyboard shredding around!
    19) unexpecT- In a Flesh Acquarium…Call it what you will, this is wild, complex avant-garde progressive metal.
    20) In Flames-Come Clarity…Legends of Gothenberg's melodic death metal scene return to form!
    21) Ihsahn-The Adversary…Emperor front man's first solo album is a winner of progressive & black metal styles.
    22) Cryptic Vision-In a World…Very solid US progressive metal. These guys keep getting better.
    23) Vader-Impressions in Blood…Polish death metal doesn't get much better than this.
    24) Deicide-Stench of Redemption…Florida death metal legends best album ever!
    25) Devin Townsend Band-Synchestra…More wild progressive rock from Townsend's solo band.
    26) Blind Guardian-A Twist in the Myth…The most accessible album yet from these power metal leaders.
    27) Voivod-Katorz…We miss ya Piggy!
    28) Seventh Wonder-Waiting in the Wings…Brilliant European progressive metal.
    29) Nebelnest-Zepto…The kings of modern, dark prog rock are back!
    30) My Dying Bride-A Line of Deathless Kings…One of the classic doom/goth bands around.
    31) Twisted Into Form-There Comes Affliction to Awaken the Dreamer…Great new technical metal from this supergroup.
    32) The Tangent-A Place In the Queue…Great Canterbury styled prog rock!
    33) Katatonia-The Great Cold Distance…Atmospheric gothic doom from Swedish veterans.
    34) Advent-Cantus Firmus…Brilliant Gentle Giant influenced 70's style prog rock.
    35) Andromeda-Chimera…One of the best progressive metal bands around.
    36) Decapitated-Organic Hallucinosis…Poland's mighty technical death metal lads return with their best yet.
    37) Bal-Sagoth: The Chthonic Chronicles…More Sci-Fi drenched symphonic black metal from these British upstarts
    38) Spaced Out-Unstable Matter…Killer instrumental fusion from Canada!
    39) Karcius-Kaliedoscope…More killer instrumental fusion from Canada!
    40) Agalloch-Ashes Against the Grain…Avant-garde black metal with plenty of prog & ambient elements.
    41) Rocket Scientists-Revolution Road…Symphonic prog & hard rock-great songs!
    42) Borknagar-Origin…Black Metal veterans go acoustic!
    43) Wyatt-Whitaker-Pedal Giant Animals…Happy the Man founders excellent side project!
    44) Akercocke-Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone…Satanic death/black metal band goes progressive!
    45) Rick Wakeman-Retro…The keyboard legend returns with an analog feast!
    46) Manning-Anser's Tree…The prolific Guy Manning churns out another symphonic, folky, proggy gem!
    47) Proto-Kaw-The Wait of Glory…Kerry Livgren & Co. unleash another great mix of prog & catchy hard rock.
    48) Insomnium-Above the Weeping World…Wonderful melodic death metal. Future stars?
    49) Jon Oliva's Pain-Maniacal Renderings…Fans of 80's Savatage should love this!
    50) Unearth-III: In the Eyes of Fire …Third times a charm-great thrash guitars!


    Best Live Albums of 2006
    1) Univers Zero-Live
    2) Jam Camp-Live
    3) Mike Keneally-Guitar Therapy Live
    4) Soft Machine-Floating World Live
    5) Bill Bruford-Earthworks Underground Orchestra
    6) Dream Theater-Score
    7) Fish-Return to Childhood
    8) Mangrove-Coming Back to Live
    9) Children of Bodom-Chaos Ridden Years
    10) Michael Landau Group-Live
    11) High Wheel-Live Before the Storm
    12) Kamelot-One Cold Winter's Night


    Best DVD's of 2006
    1) Arch Enemy-Live Apocalypse
    2) KISS-KISSology
    3) Rush-Replay X3
    4) Rainbow-Live in Munich 1977
    5) Deep Purple-Live in California 74
    6) Gentle Giant-GG at the GG
    7) Nektar-Live in Germany 2005
    8) Glass Hammer-Live at Belmont
    9) Mike Stern-New Morning: The Paris Concert
    10) Erik Norlander & Friends-Live in St. Petersburg
    11) Whitesnake-Live in the Still of the Night
    12) Deep Purple-Live at Montreux 1996
    13) Black Label Society-The European Invasion: Doom Troopin' Live
    14) The Who-Live at the Isle of Wight Festival Special Edition
    15) Uli John Roth-Historic Performances Vol. 1 & 2
    16) Kamelot-One Cold Winters Night
    17) Iced Earth-Alive in Athens
    18) Soft Machine Legacy-New Morning: The Paris Concert
    19) The Who-The Vegas Job
    20) Pat Travers Band-Live: Hooked on Music
    21) Children of Bodom-Chaos Ridden Years
    22) Amon Amarth-Wrath of the Norsemen


    Best Concerts of 2006
    1) Gigantour-PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
    2) NEARfest-Zolner Arts Center, Bethlehem, PA
    3) SAGA-BB King Blues Club, New York, NY
    4) Dream Theater-Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY
    5) Uli John Roth, BB King Blues Club, New York, NY
    6) The Who-TD Waterhouse Center, Boston, MA
    7) Celtic Frost-BB King Blues Club, New York, NY
    8) In Flames-Webster Hall, New York, NY
    9) Nile/Hypocrisy-BB King Blues Club, New York, NY
    10) Fear Factory/Suffocation/Hypocrisy/Decapitated-The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY
    11) Asia-The Nokia Theatre, New York, NY
    12) Carl Palmer Band-BB King Blues Club, New York, NY
    13) Morbid Angel/Behemoth-BB King Blues Club, New York, NY
    14) Children of Bodom/Amon Amarth/Gojira-Nokia Theatre, New York, NY
    15) The Gathering/unexpecT/Giant Squid-The Knitting Factory, New York, NY


    Greg Cummins
    My Top 10 CD's of 2006


    1. Sylvan – Posthumous Silence
    2. Paatos – Silence Of Another Kind
    3. Sonic Music – The Prisoner
    4. Difficul Equilibro – Kazmor el Prisonero
    5. East Wind Pot – East Wind Pot
    6. OSI – Free
    7. Saga – Trust
    8. Scott Mosher – Deep Horizon
    9. The Ring - The Empire Of Necromancers
    10. Zaar – Zaar


    Ryan Sparks
    My Top 15 CD's of 2006


    1) Celtic Frost: Monotheist
    2) Ruins of Beverast: Unlock The Shrine
    3) Wolves in The Throne Room: Diadem of 12 Stars
    4) Hubi Meisel: Kailash
    5) Agaloch: Ashes Against The Grain
    6) Nactmystium: Instinct: Decay
    7) Zero Hour: Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond
    8) Satyricon: Now Diabolical
    9) Hank Williams III : Straight to Hell
    10) Dennis Dunaway Project: Bones From The Yard
    11) Motorhead: Kiss of Death
    12) Anthropia: The Ereyn Chronicles - Part 1
    13) Section A: Parallel Lives
    14) Lacrimas Profundere: Filthy Notes For Frozen Hearts
    15) Kataklysm: In The Arms of Devastation


    Duncan Glenday
    My top batch for 2006. My problem is that there are many (apparently) excellent releases that I haven't heard yet – so this list is far from absolute.

    These are listed in rough priority. But if I should be asked to rank them next week, I''d probably list them in a very different sequence – although it's a pretty safe bet that the top few would keep their positions.


    Best Of 2006

  • UnexpecT -- In A Flesh Aquarium
  • Deluge Grander -- August in the Urals
  • Sylvan -- Posthumous Silence
  • La Maschera di Cera -- LuXade
  • Iona - The Circling Hour
  • Borknagar – Origin, AND Green Carnation -- The Acoustic Verses (a tie)
  • Phideaux -- The Great Leap
  • Viima -- Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
  • Pure Reason Revolution -- The Dark Third
  • Townsend, Devin -- Synchestra
  • Mars Volta, The -- Amputechture
  • Electric Outlet -- On!
  • Estradasphere -- Palace Of Mirrors
  • Frost* -- Milliontown
  • Zero Hour -- Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond
  • Rocket Scientists -- Revolution Road
  • Fluttr Effect -- Marking Time
  • Tool -- 10,000 Days
  • Guy Manning -- Anser's Tree
  • White Willow -- Signal To Noise
  • Vanden Plas -- Christ.0
  • Celtic Frost -- Monotheist
  • Proto-Kaw -- The Wait of Glory
  • Paatos -- Silence of Another Kind
  • Saturnus -- Veronika Decides To Die


    And special mentions go to:

  • Imagin' Aria -- Progetto T.I.'A (Because it's helping revive classic Italian prog, in a modern idiom)
  • Queensryche -- Operation Mindcrime II (Because it's such a brave, ambitious return – albeit with mixed results)
  • Project Creation -- The Floating World (Because it's a very promising debut,)
  • Dream Theater -- Score - 20th Anniversary World Tour (Because of the wonderful inclusion of the orchestra, in a live environment)


    Ken Pierce
    The Top 50 CD's of 2006

    1. Mercenary - The Hours That Remain. A great followup to 11 dreams. This is a band that is taking chances in Metal.
    2. Mastodon - Blood Mountain: Jazz Fusion Metal? I dunno, but the new Mastodon sure kicks your ass around the block.
    3. Amorphis - Eclipse…Finland boys return and do more good. Lots of feels on this one.
    4. Scar Symmetry - Pitch Black Effects…Raging guitar solos, soaring clean vocals, brutal death metal growls-brilliant!
    5. Lamb of God - Sacrament…Their best yet. Future legends. The first four songs are instant classics and if you don't find your fist in the air for this release you don't have one. Go watch American Idol
    6. Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death: Up the Irons, pure and simple. Some bad press from some people who don't see the return to form. They are idiots.
    7. I – Between Two Worlds: Great project from members of Immortal, Enslaved, and Gorgoroth.
    8. Enslaved – RUUN: The black metal titans get even more progressive and this is an incredible listen from start to finish
    9. Satyricon - Now, Diabolical: More Metal needs to be like this.
    10. Vanden Plas - Christ O …Stunning operatic progressive metal. Their best yet! Especially the bonus track
    11. Into Eternity - The Scattering of Ashes...Super complex prog-metal.
    12. Cradle of Filth-Thornography…The always controversial UK demons release their most traditional metal & gothic album yet.
    13. Dragonforce-Inhuman Rampage…Insanely wicked UK power metal with the sickest guitar & keyboard shredding around!
    14. unexpecT- In a Flesh Acquarium: You will listen to this three times and still be lost. It is that good and that diverse. Siriak for Prime Minister of Montreal
    15. In Flames-Come Clarity…Legends of Gothenberg's melodic death metal scene return to form!
    16. Ihsahn-The Adversary…Emperor front man's first solo album is a winner of progressive & black metal styles.
    17. Deicide - Stench of Redemption…Florida death metal legends best album ever! I can say this proudly as someone who only casually followed them
    18. Blind Guardian-A Twist in the Myth…The most accessible album yet from these power metal leaders.
    19. Decapitated-Organic Hallucinosis…Poland's mighty technical death metal lads return with their best yet.
    20. Agalloch-Ashes Against the Grain…Avant-garde black metal with plenty of prog & ambient elements.
    21. Trivium - The Crusade…Their homage to 80's Metallica. Killer riffs!
    22. Jon Oliva's Pain-Maniacal Renderings…Fans of 80's Savatage should love this!
    23. Amon Amarth - With Odin By our Side: Ever felt like a Viking warrior on a quest, this is your soundtrack.
    24. Callenish Circle - Pitch Black Effects: Soilwork meets Mercenary meets Scar Symmetry, excellent stuff
    25. Green Carnation - The Acoustic Verses: A band that never disappoints and yet still needs a larger US audience, hey peoples ARE YOU LISTENING.
    26. Korpiklaani - Tales Along This Road: Folk Metal's finest purveyor.
    27. Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime II: No MC1, but it should not have been. This takes a couple of listens and is a powerful revisit when you finally get it.
    28. Dissection – Reinkaos: The last recording. Nodveidt RIP.
    29. Evergrey - Monday Morning Apocalypse: This grew on me.
    30. Rebel Meets Rebel - Rebel Meets Rebel: Southern Fried Metal featuring Dimebag and Company. A sad reminder of why we miss him so much.
    31. Cheap Trick – Rockford: Cheap Trick return to a style they excelled at and this is good and tasty Rock & Roll.
    32. Motorhead - Kiss of Death: Who does what Motorhead does like Motorhead? No one.
    33. Eidolon-The Parallel Otherworld: The Drover Brothers show what else they are capable of.
    34. All that Remains - The Fall of Ideals: An intense effort, bridging the gap of Metalcore with strong Melody. A welcome change.
    35. Gojira - From Mars to Sirius: Good stuff, ala Mastodon only from France
    36. To-Mera – Transcendental: Progressive Melodic Experimental Metal. Julie Kiss rules
    37. Angra - Aurora Consurgens: Angra is a band that never seems to disappoint.
    38. Fairyland - The Fall of an Empire: All hail the heir to the throne of Rhapsody.
    39. Wednesday 13 – Fang Bang – Ever wanted to dance with a dead body in a graveyard with a serial killer? Wow, me too and this is the music to do it by (only kidding, so please any serial killers do not contact me)

    Best Live Albums of 2006

  • Dream Theater – Score: The 20th Anniversary show, wow, has it been that long.
  • Fish - Return to Childhood: Fish brings to life once again, the Marillion that more people miss than do not.
  • Children of Bodom - Chaos Ridden Years
  • Kamelot - One Cold Winters Night

    Best DVD's of 2006

  • Arch Enemy - Live Apocalypse: Do you love Angela Gossow? If not, I don't want to be the one to tell one of the most imposing of female singers today. This is a band that has done serious damage since her arrival and shows no signs of stopping.
  • KISS - KISSology : You wanted the best and you got the best the hottest band in the world KISS!!!!! Disagree with me? Shut up and get out of my way or wise up and enjoy this incredible archive of video footage from a band that started more trends than you can count..
  • Rush - Replay X3: 3 classic Rush out of print VHS films in a neato little package with mini-tourbooks, oh snap this was wonderful to see released.
  • Children Of Bodom – Stockholm Knockout Live: Are you doubtful that COB is one of the more exciting bands of today, then buy this DVD and come talk to me again.
  • Therion – Celebrators Of Becoming: Behind on your Therion, well this comprehensive and extensive boxed set will surely win you over and get you up to speed.
  • Stream Of Passion – Live In The Real World: Arjen Lucassens project with the beautiful Marcela Bovio will take you to new musical realms.
  • Whitesnake - Live in the Still of the Night: Here they go again on their own, and guess what it all still kicks some serious bootie.
  • Sonata Arctica – For The Sake Of Revenge: One of the best live bands for Metal today. They hold the banner high for the genre.
  • Black Label Society - The European Invasion: Doom Troopin' Live: so much better on this DVD than the last one. A tight set of crunching Hard Rock and Metal.
  • Kamelot - One Cold Winters Night: This is a concert film that will make you a fan for life. Dramatic, energetic, and passionate. Melodic Power Metal at its best.
  • Iced Earth - Alive in Athens: Jon Schaffer may not have wanted you to buy this, but this is a spot on concert film with the classic lineup of the group and the only way to enjoy a set featuring Barlow. Need I say more.

    Best Concerts of 2006

  • Gigantour @ PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ: A concert with Megadeth, Opeth, Overkill, Into Eternity, Arch Enemy, and Lamb Of God? Of course this was a blast of a time. How could it not be.
  • Kamelot/Epica – B.B. King Blues Club, NY: Two of my new favorites on one tour package, yes indeed the Power Melodic was in force here.
  • Emperor @ B.B. King Blues Club, NY: The return of Isahn and company and while down an original member who could not gain US access, this was an incredible show. Never saw the venue more crowded before.
  • Dream Theater @ Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY: 20 years of Dream Theater – Who's coming along for the next 20?
  • Uli John Roth @ B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY: This is a man who inspired many and is still considered a mystery to many. Thank God he performed in NYC and for a packed house. He deserved it, and we hope for his return.
  • Celtic Frost @ B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY: Influential Metallists and while I was not an original fan back when, I could not miss their NYC appearance.
  • In Flames @ Webster Hall, New York, NY: This was a great time, and Trivium made it all the more enjoyable as well.
  • The Amazing Journey @ B.B. King Blues Club, NY: Wow, the music of the Who performed by Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Paul Gilbert and Gary Cherone. Need I say more? I didn't think so.
  • Carl Palmer Band @ B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY : One of the greatest drummers alive in a comfortable club playing renditions of music he created with a 16 year old version of Alan Holdsworth, oh yeah buddy.
  • Morbid Angel/Behemoth @ B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY: This was a show that was so heavy your fillings would rumble and that was if you survived the giant most pit the floor became. This was Metal all the way. Intense, brutal and uncompromising.
  • Poison with Cinderella @ PNC Bank Arts Center: I was looking for Nothing But A Good Time and boy did I have it in spades.


    Murat Batmaz
    Top 10 CD's of 2006


    1 - Zero Hour - Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond
    2 - Vanden Plas - Christ 0
    3 - Katatonia - The Great Cold Distance
    4 - OSI - Free
    5 - Devin Townsend Band - Synchestra
    6 - Cult of Luna - Somewhere Along the Highway
    7 - Wolverine - Still
    8 - Spaced Out - Unstable Matter
    9 - Canvas Solaris - Penumbra Diffuse
    10 - Novembre - Materia

    Best debuts:


    1 - Degree Absolute - Degree Absolute
    2 - Red Circuit - Trance State
    3 - To-Mera - Transcendental
    4 - Darwin's Radio - Eyes of the World
    5 - Thom Yorke - The Eraser
    6 - Bloodbound - Nosferatu
    7- Ihsahn - The Adversary
    8- Intronaut - Void

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